FBI Helps Bust International Botnet Ring

December 1st, 2007 - 3:12 am ICT by admin  

It’s 10:00 p.m. Do you know what your teen is doing online? Hopefully, the answer is not “attracting the unwelcome interest of the FBI for operating an international botnet ring that infected millions of computers and stole approximately $25 million from the bank accounts of unsuspecting victims.”

That’s the grim news received by the parents of an 18-year-old New Zealand man, identified in press reports only by his online ID “Akill.” A collaborative investigation by the FBI and New Zealand authorities resulted in the search of Akill’s residence earlier this week.

The teen was questioned about his role in the botnet operation, codenamed the “A-team,” but was released without being charged. If police do file charges, Akill could face up to 10 years in prison.

Operation Bot Roast II

A “bot” is a small, specialized computer program designed to perform a particular function. Many, like a search engine’s webcrawler, are benign, but they can be designed to track user activity surreptitiously and communicate it to a third party.

Some are also designed to use a computer’s spare processing power to send out spam or infect other computers. A “botnet” is a collection of commonly compromised computers; the individual controlling the “botnet” is typically referred to as the “botherder” — an appropriate metaphor for Akill, as sheep still outnumber New Zealanders by about twelve to one.

The investigation in New Zealand was part of a broader FBI operation, “Bot Roast,” that targeted the criminal use of botnets. According to an FBI statement about the two-phased operation, the investigation has uncovered over $20 million in economic losses and at least one million affected computers.

“Today, botnets are the weapon of choice of cyber criminals,” FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, said in the statement. “In Bot Roast II, we see the diverse and complex nature of crimes…

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